Did I Say That: Trying out WebMD and home remedies to avoid waiting rooms during COVID-19

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

Somehow when I wasn’t looking, I injured part of my body I didn’t know existed. If I knew which part it was, I could get a clearer picture of what’s wrong. It’s either a tendon, a ligament, a nerve, a joint or a yet-to-be-discovered organ. I don’t know, and the doctor doesn’t seem to know either.

Anyway, when you need a doctor during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a pretty good bet they have more important things to do than poking and prodding your groin, so I lived with my ache for months. I tried telemedicine, but it’s difficult to poke and prod a person by Zoom.

When you can’t go to a doctor, I suppose telemedicine is better than nothing. For me, it reached the point where I had to take the law into my own hands because my tendon, ligament, nerve, possible kidney stone or arthritis was getting worse, so I did what any good diagnostician would do and turned to Google, which helps solve a lot of problems but not as many as it creates.

I love the free advice you can get on websites like WebMD. All you have to do is Google “What causes groin pain?” and you could spend the rest of your life reading millions of comments by people with the same problem as you — approximately half the population of planet Earth ... or at least those who have internet.

After a week of trying to self-diagnose my problem and conducting self-exams, I concluded that everyone in America has a tendon, ligament, nerve etc. problem, and it made me feel better to know I was not alone. After three weeks, I began telling the doctors what my problem was and started billing them for my consultation fees.

I also decided to pursue an M.D. at the Google School of Medicine. I wish I thought of that sooner because it would have been more lucrative than a career in journalism. All you need is a stethoscope and a smartphone.

My father had the same skills when it came to self-diagnosing his ailments. He even developed treatments, which usually consisted of a 16-ounce can of Budweiser and a Subway Italian combo with hot peppers and pepperoni (to kill the germs).

Another favorite was Epsom salt, which he used to treat everything from sore feet to creaking joints, bee stings and slivers. Epsom salt, I discovered, is a cure-all for stomach aches, hair loss, constipation, insomnia and fibromyalgia. We always had a large supply of Epsom salt handy, but not as large as the supply of Budweiser.

The old ways are the best, so to treat my mystery condition, I bought an Italian combo with hot peppers and pepperoni. Then, I put on my face mask and raced over to Walmart for some Epsom salt.

You may not know this, but Epsom salt is not salt, but rather magnesium sulfate, and Epsom is the place in England where it came from. Since I got mine from Walmart, it could technically be classified as “Walmart salt.”

I discovered all kinds of Epsom salt. Dr. Teal’s makes it with “cannabis sativa,” which is Latin for hemp seed oil — but you don’t smoke it. The good news is I bought a bag without having to show them my driver’s license. You can also buy Epsom salt with almond oil and coconut oil. I’m Italian, so I was a little disappointed they didn’t have any with olive oil.

I also bought a bag of their special Himalayan salt, guaranteed to bring you to another dimension of sound, sight and mind and alleviate insomnia, stress and agita. I don’t have to travel to Tibet because it will help me unwind and reach Nirvana in my bathtub.

If I started using this stuff 20 years ago, I could have avoided a lot of visits to the gastroenterologist. After a warm bath in Epsom salt, I’m mellow, relaxed and ready for bed. The only problem is it hasn’t cured my tendon, ligament, kidney stone, joint aches.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.